Durban - Durban and uMhlanga beachfront hotels were “chock-a-block” and the telephones were still ringing off the hook with people wanting to find accommodation, tourism bosses said.
And the Durban visitor figures were much better than last year’s arrivals, because of the number of events in the first 13 days of the month, said Michael Jackson, chairman of the regional Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa.
Such was the demand for accommodation in Durban that the Tsogo Sun Hotels reservation centre received more than 1 000 enquiries on each of the two days before Christmas, he said.
And the peak season was expected to last until January 9 because Johannesburg schools reopened only on the 15th, Jackson said. “People just love the improvements along the beachfront,” he added.
Bumper crowds have been flocking to the beaches, and , city officials were totting up all the statistics.
In uMhlanga, some visitors were forced to leave the beachon Thursday because temperatures “went through the roof” making conditions unbearable, said Peter Rose, chairman of the uMhlanga Tourism Association.
Temperatures reached 31ºC, humidity was 70 percent and the SA Weather Bureau issued a warning about the high discomfort level, said Durban forecaster, Mdu Mthembu.
Rose said tourism figures in uMhlanga were not as high as the last festive season which had enjoyed a continuous month of good weather.
“This year, the weather was not kind to us until the 19th when it improved. “Now, we are having exceptionally good weather and the beaches are packed with good crowds. By and large, the occupancy rate is extremely high.
“People who have been hanging back because of the weather are now coming. And yes, the phones are ringing off the hook, with people looking for accommodation.”
The beaches were not the only places that were packed.
Holidaymakers also headed for the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, for the Sunfoil Test Series between South Africa and India, and to the annual jazz festival at Hazelmere Dam.
“Judging by the number plates, there are a lot of people from outside the province at the festival,” said Phillip Sithole, the head of Durban Tourism, who attended the event.
Visitors also headed for the sand in their droves at Shelly Beach and Margate on the Lower South Coast, said Justin Mackrory, the chief executive officer of Ugu South Coast Tourism.
“We had very bad weather at the start of the holidays, but from about the 15th the tourist volumes kept creeping up,” he said. - Daily News